Title:
Glycine metabolism enzymes
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
This invention relates to isolated polynucleotides encoding at least a portion of a glycine metabolism enzyme selected from choline oxidase, L-allo-threonine aldolase, phosphoserine phosphatase, and sarcosine oxidase. The invention also relates to the construction of a chimeric gene encoding all or a portion of a glycine metabolism enzyme, in sense or antisense orientation, wherein expression of the chimeric gene results in production of altered levels of the glycine metabolism enzyme in a transformed host cell.



Inventors:
Allen, Stephen M. (Wilmington, DE, US)
Falco, Saverio Carl (Arden, DE, US)
Sewalt, Vincent J. H. (West Des Moines, IA, US)
Application Number:
09/873880
Publication Date:
09/05/2002
Filing Date:
06/04/2001
Assignee:
ALLEN STEPHEN M.
FALCO SAVERIO CARL
SEWALT VINCENT J.H.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
435/69.1, 435/235.1, 435/252.3, 435/254.2, 435/410, 800/288
International Classes:
C12N9/04; C12N9/06; C12N9/16; C12N9/88; (IPC1-7): A01H5/00; C12N1/18; C12N1/21; C12N5/04; C12N7/00; C12N9/06; C12P21/02
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
BRAGDON, KATHLEEN KERR
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LEGAL PATENT RECORDS CENTER,E I DU PONT DE NEMOURS AND COMPANY (BARLEY MILL PLAZA 25/1128, WILMINGTON, DE, 19805, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. An isolated polynucleotide that encodes a choline oxidase polypeptide, the polypeptide having a sequence identity of at least 80% based on the Clustal method of alignment when compared to a polypeptide selected from the group consisting of SEQ ID NOs:2 and 24.

2. The polynucleotide of claim 1 wherein the sequence identity is at least 85%.

3. The polynucleotide of claim 1 wherein the sequence identity is at least 90%.

4. The polynucleotide of claim 1 wherein the sequence identity is at least 95%.

5. The polynucleotide of claim 1 wherein the polynucleotide encodes a polypeptide selected from the group consisting of SEQ ID NOs:2 and 24.

6. The polynucleotide of claim 1 wherein the polynucleotide comprises a nucleotide sequence selected from the group consisting of SEQ ID NO:1 and 23.

7. An isolated complement of the polynucleotide of claim 1, wherein (a) the complement and the polynucleotide consist of the same number of nucleotides, and (b) the nucleotide sequences of the complement and the polynucleotide have 100% complementarity.

8. An isolated nucleic acid molecule that (1) encodes a choline oxidase polypeptide and (2) remains hybridized with the isolated polynucleotide of claim 1 under a wash condition of 0.1×SSC, 0.1% SDS, and 65° C.

9. A chimeric gene comprising the polynucleotide of claim 1 operably linked to at least one regulatory sequence.

10. A cell comprising the polynucleotide of claim 9.

11. The cell of claim 10, wherein the cell is selected from the group consisting of a yeast cell, a bacterial cell and a plant cell.

12. A virus comprising the polynucleotide of claim 9.

13. A transgenic plant comprising the polynucleotide of claim 9.

14. The seed of the plant of claim 13.

15. A method for transforming a cell, comprising introducing into a cell the polynucleotide of claim 9.

16. A method for producing a transgenic plant comprising (a) transforming a plant cell with the polynucleotide of claim 9, and (b) regenerating a plant from the transformed plant cell.

17. A method for altering the level of expression of choline oxidase in a plant, comprising (1) obtaining a transgenic plant according to the method of claim 16, and (2) testing said transgenic plant for altered choline oxidase level.

18. A method for producing a plant or a plant part having altered betaine level, comprising (1) obtaining a plant with altered choline oxidase level according to claim 17; and (2) testing a part of the plant for increased betaine level.

19. The method of claim 18, wherein the plant part is seed.

20. An isolated choline oxidase polypeptide that has a sequence identity of at least 80% based on the Clustal method compared to an amino acid sequence selected from the group consisting of SEQ ID NOs:2 and 24.

21. The isolated polypeptide of claim 20 wherein the sequence identity is at least 85%.

22. The isolated polypeptide of claim 20 wherein the sequence identity is at least 90%.

23. The isolated polypeptide of claim 20 wherein the sequence identity is at least 95%.

24. The polypeptide of claim 20 wherein the polypeptide has a sequence selected from the group consisting of SEQ ID NOs:2 and 24.

25. A plant or a plant part produced according to the method of claim 18.

26. An animal feed comprising the plant or plant part of claim 25.

Description:

[0001] This application is a continuation in part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/363,321, filed Jul. 28, 1999 which claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/094,839, filed Jul. 31, 1998.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0002] This invention is in the field of plant molecular biology. More specifically, this invention pertains to nucleic acid fragments encoding enzymes involved in glycine metabolism in plants and seeds. This invention includes polynucleotides encoding choline oxidase as well as chimeric genes including the polynucleotides.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] In addition to their role as protein monomeric units, amino acids are energy metabolites and precursors of many biologically-important nitrogen-containing compounds, such as heme, physiologically active amines, glutathione, other amino acids, nucleotides, and nucleotide coenzymes. Excess dietary amino acids are neither stored for future use nor excreted. Instead they are converted to common metabolic intermediates such as pyruvate, oxaloacetate, and alpha-ketoglutarate. Consequently, amino acids are also precursors of glucose, fatty acids, and ketone bodies and are therefore metabolic fuels.

[0004] The enzymes mentioned in this application are involved directly or indirectly in the synthesis and degradation of glycine. Choline oxidase (EC 1.1.3.17) catalyzes a variety of reactions among which is the conversion of choline to glycine betaine via betaine aldehyde in the pathway to synthesizing sarcosine. The Choline oxidase enzyme is found associated with a flavine. The choline oxidase gene from Arthrobacter globiformis has been described (Deschnium et al. (1995) Plant Mol. Biol. 29:897-907), as well as the genes from Arthorobacter pascens (Rozwadowski et al. (1991) J. Bacteriol. 73:472-478), Alcaligenes (Ohta-Fukuyama et al. (1980) J. Biochem. 88:197-203), and Fusarium venenatum (U.S. Pat. No. 6,146,864). The sequence for a plant gene encoding choline oxidase has not been described to date. The codA gene for choline oxidase, from the soil bacterium, has been used to transform Arabidopsis thaliana under the control of the cauliflower mosaic virus 35S promoter. Transformed plants accumulated glycine betaine and showed enhanced tolerance to salt and cold stress (Hayashi, H. et al. (1997) Plant J. 12:133-142). Glycine betaine is also referred to as betaine, or trymethyl glycine. It is produced by choline oxidase and is used as an additive to feed as a source of methyl groups. The methyl groups derived from glycine betaine are incorporated in plants into alkaloids, in mammals and microorganisms into methionine and in microorganisms into cobalamin. Betaine can be used as a carbon and nitrogen source by some microorganisms.

[0005] Purified choline oxidase is useful for chemical analyses such as the quantitative analysis of choline, clinical examinations such as the measurement of choline esterases in serum and the measurement of choline lipids. Choline oxidase bound to a support is used in activity determinations by the production of hydrogen peroxide or chemiluminescence.

[0006] Sarcosine oxidase (EC 1.5.3.1) catalyzes the conversion of sarcosine to glycine. There are two types of bacterial sarcosine oxidases. Heterotetrameric enzymes containing subunits ranging in size from about 10 to 100 kDa, and monomeric sarcosine oxidases which are similar in size to the beta subunit in the heterotetramers and contain covalently bound FAD. Only the heterotetrameric sarcosine oxidases can use tetrahydrofolates as substrates and, in this regard, they resemble mammalian sarcosine and dimethylglycine dehydrogenases (Wagner, M. A. and Schuman Jorns, M. (1997) Arch Biochem Biophys 342:176-181). Genes encoding plant sarcosine oxidases have not been isolated yet.

[0007] Phosphoserine phosphatase (EC 3.1.3.3) is involved in the conversion of phosphoserine to serine, which may be converted to glycine. In the central nervous system serine and glycine are synthesized de novo primarily via a phosphorylated pathway, originating with the glycolytic intermediate phosphoglycerate. The rate-limiting step in the synthesis of serine is the hydrolysis of phosphoserine by phosphoserine phosphatase, an important enzyme in regulating the steady-state levels of D-serine in neocortical synaptosomes (Wood, P. L. et al. (1996) J. Neurochem 67:1485-1490). As yet, phosphoserine phosphatase activity has not been isolated from plants, but EST sequences with similarity to the human and rat enzymes are found in the GenBank database.

[0008] Also involved in glycine degradation is L-allo-threonine aldolase (L-allo-threonine acetaldehyde-lyase, EC 4.1.2.5), which catalyzes the reversible conversion of glycine to L-allo-threonine. The purified enzyme from Aeromonas jandaei catalyzes the aldol cleavage reaction of L-allo-threonine. The activity of the enzyme is inhibited by carbonyl reagents and does not act on either L-serine or L-threonine, and thus it can be distinguished from serine hydroxy-methyltransferase or L-threonine aldolase (Kataoka, M. et al. (1997) FEMS Microbiol Lett 151:245-248). This enzyme has been characterized in bacteria and yeasts. DNA fragments from Arabidopsis thaliana and rice containing similarities to L-allo-threonine aldolase exist in the GenBank database.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0009] The present invention concerns isolated polynucleotides comprising a nucleotide sequence encoding at least a portion of a glycine metabolism enzyme selected from the group consisting of choline oxidase, L-allo-threonine aldolase, phosphoserine phosphatase, and sarcosine oxidase.

[0010] The present invention concerns isolated polynucleotides comprising a nucleotide sequence selected from the group consisting of: (a) a first nucleotide sequence encoding a choline oxidase polypeptide having at least 80% identity, based on the Clustal method of alignment, when compared to a polypeptide selected from the group consisting of SEQ ID NOs:2 and 24; (b) a second nucleotide sequence encoding a sarcosine oxidase polypeptide having at least 80% identity, based on the Clustal method of alignment, when compared to a polypeptide selected from the group consisting of SEQ ID NOs:4, 6, 8, 10, 26, 28, 30, and 32; (c) a third nucleotide sequence encoding aphosphoserine phosphatase polypeptide having at least 80% identity, based on the Clustal method of alignment, when compared to a polypeptide selected from the group consisting of SEQ ID NOs: 12, 14, 34, and 36; and (d) a fourth nucleotide sequence encoding an L-allo-threonine aldolase polypeptide having at least 80% identity, based on the Clustal method of alignment, when compared to a polypeptide selected from the group consisting of SEQ ID NOs:16, 18, 20, 22, 38, 40, and 42. It is preferred that the identity be at least 85%, it is preferable if the identity is at least 90%, it is more preferred that the identity be at least 95%. This invention also relates to the isolated complement of such polynucleotides, wherein the complement and the polynucleotide consist of the same number of nucleotides, and the nucleotide sequences of the complement and the polynucleotide have 100% complementarity.

[0011] In a third embodiment nucleotide sequence of the isolated polynucleotide is selected from SEQ ID NOs:1, 23, 3, 5, 7, 9, 25, 27, 29, 31, 11, 13, 33, 35, 15, 17, 19, 21, 37, 39, and 41.

[0012] In a fourth embodiment, this invention concerns an isolated polynucleotide encoding a choline oxidase, L-allo-threonine aldolase, phosphoserine phosphatase, or sarcosine oxidase.

[0013] In a fifth embodiment, this invention relates to a chimeric gene comprising the polynucleotide of the present invention.

[0014] In a sixth embodiment, the present invention concerns an isolated nucleic acid molecule that comprises at least 100 nucleotides and remains hybridized with the isolated polynucleotide of the present invention under a wash condition of 0.1×SSC, 0.1% SDS, and 65° C.

[0015] In a seventh embodiment, the invention also relates to a host cell comprising a chimeric gene of the present invention or an isolated polynucleotide of the present invention. The host cell may be eukaryotic, such as a yeast cell or a plant cell, or prokaryotic, such as a bacterial cell. The present invention may also relate to a virus comprising an isolated polynucleotide of the present invention or a chimeric gene of the present invention.

[0016] In an eighth embodiment, the invention concerns a transgenic plant comprising a polynucleotide of the present invention.

[0017] In a ninth embodiment, the invention relates to a method for transforming a cell by introducing into such cell the polynucleotide of the present invention, or a method of producing a transgenic plant by transforming a plant cell with the polynucleotide of the present invention and regenerating a plant from the transformed plant cell.

[0018] In a tenth embodiment, the invention concerns a method for producing a nucleotide fragment by selecting a nucleotide sequence comprised by a polynucleotide of the present invention and synthesizing a polynucleotide fragment containing the nucleotide sequence. It is understood that the nucleotide fragment may be produced in vitro or in vivo.

[0019] In an eleventh embodiment the invention concerns an isolated polypeptide comprising an amino acid sequence selected from the group consisting of: (a) a choline oxidase polypeptide having a sequence identity of at least 80%, based on the Clustal method of alignment, when compared to an amino acid sequence selected from the group consisting of SEQ ID NOs:2 and 24; (b) a sarcosine oxidase polypeptide having a sequence identity of at least 80%, based on the Clustal method of alignment, when compared to an amino acid sequence selected from the group consisting of SEQ ID NOs:4, 6, 8, 10, 26, 28, 30, and 32; (c) a phosphoserine phosphatase polypeptide having a sequence identity of at least 80%, based on the Clustal method of alignment, when compared to an amino acid sequence selected from the group consisting of SEQ ID NOs:12, 14, 34, and 36; and (d) an L-allo-threonine aldolase polypeptide having a sequence identity of at least 80%, based on the Clustal method of alignment, when compared to an amino acid sequence selected from the group consisting of SEQ ID NOs:16, 18, 20, 22, 38, 40, and 42. It is preferred that the identity be at least 85%, it is more preferred if the identity is at least 90%, it is preferable that the identity be at least 95%.

[0020] In a twelfth embodiment the invention relates to an isolated polypleptide selected from SEQ ID NOs:2, 24, 4, 6, 8, 10, 26, 28, 30, 32, 12, 14, 34, 36, 16, 18, 20, 22, 38, 40, and 42.

[0021] In a thirteenth embodiment, this invention concerns an isolated polypeptide having choline oxidase, L-allo-threonine aldolase, phosphoserine phosphatase, or sarcosine oxidase activity.

[0022] In a fourteenth embodiment, this invention relates to a method of altering the level of expression of glycine metabolism enzymes in a host cell comprising: transforming a host cell with a chimeric gene of the present invention; and growing the transformed host cell under conditions that are suitable for expression of the chimeric gene.

[0023] Another embodiment of the invention is the production of plants with high content of betaine. Also within the scope of this invention are seeds or plant parts obtained from such transformed plants. Plant parts include differentiated and undifferentiated tissues, including but not limited to, roots, stems, shoots, leaves, pollen, seeds, tumor tissue, and various forms of cells and culture such as single cells, protoplasts, embryos, and callus tissue. The plant tissue may be in plant or in organ, tissue or cell culture. The preparation of grains and/or part plants of such plants for use as feed.

[0024] Betaine is also called glycine betaine, or trymethyl glycine. It is produced by choline oxidase and is used as an additive to feed as a source of methyl groups. Use of betaine as an additive in feed has been reported to have beneficial effects on coccidiosis infected poultry (Waldenstedt (1999) Poultry Sci. 78:182-189) and turkeys with flushing syndrome (Ferket (1995) Proceedings, Smithkline Beecham Pacesetter Conference, National Turkey Federation Annual Meeting, January 10, Orlando, Fla.; pp5-14). Betaine added to the diet has also been considered to improve the growth characteristics of healthy lambs, swine, and poultry (Fernandez (2000) Anim. Feed Sci. Technol. 86:71-82; Matthews (2001) J. Anim. Sci. 79:722-728; Esteve-Garcia (2000) Anim. Feed Sci. TechnoL 87:85-93). Betaine forms part of the transmethylation cycle that allows the body to conserve methionine while minimizing the concentration of homocysteine in tissues. Low concentrations of homocysteine are desired because elevated levels of homocysteine in tissues have been linked to disease (Selhub (1999) Annu. Rev. Nutr. 19:217-246). The levels of betaine in tissues may be measured by using spectrophotometry (Barak and Tuma (1979) Lipids 14:860-863), gas chromatographic mass spectrometry (Allen et al. (1993) Metabolism 42:1448-1460), or HPLC (Lever et al. (1992) Anal. Biochem. 205:14-21; Mar et al. (1995) Nutr. Biochem. 6:392-398; Saarinen et al. (2001) J. Agric. Food Chem. 49:559-563). There are no reports of feeding grain high in betaine to animals.

[0025] A further embodiment of the instant invention is a method for evaluating at least one compound for its ability to inhibit the activity of a glycine metabolism enzyme, the method comprising the steps of: (a) transforming a host cell with a chimeric gene comprising a nucleic acid fragment of the present invention operably linked to suitable regulatory sequences; (b) growing the transformed host cell under conditions that are suitable for expression of the chimeric gene wherein expression of the chimeric gene results in production of choline oxidase, L-allo-threonine aldolase, phosphoserine phosphatase, or sarcosine oxidase activity in the transformed host cell; (c) optionally purifying the choline oxidase, L-allo-threonine aldolase, phosphoserine phosphatase, or sarcosine oxidase polypeptide expressed by the transformed host cell; (d) treating the choline oxidase, L-allo-threonine aldolase, phosphoserine phosphatase, or sarcosine oxidase polypeptide with a compound to be tested; and (e) comparing the activity of the choline oxidase, L-allo-threonine aldolase, phosphoserine phosphatase, or sarcosine oxidase that has been treated with a test compound to the activity of an untreated choline oxidase, L-allo-threonine aldolase, phosphoserine phosphatase, or sarcosine oxidase, and selecting compounds with potential for inhibitory activity.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEQUENCE LISTINGS

[0026] The invention can be more fully understood from the following detailed description and the accompanying drawings and Sequence Listing which form a part of this application.

[0027] The polypeptides described herein are listed in Tables 1A, 1B, 1C, and 1D. Each of these tables lists the species from which the particular nucleotide was extracted, the designation of the clones that comprise the nucleic acid fragments encoding these polypeptides, and the corresponding identifier (SEQ ID NO:) as used in the attached Sequence Listing. The sequence descriptions and Sequence Listing attached hereto comply with the rules governing nucleotide and/or amino acid sequence disclosures in patent applications as set forth in 37 C.F.R. §1.821-1.825. 1

TABLE 1A
Choline Oxidases
SEQ ID NO:
SpeciesClone Designation(Nucleotide)(Amino Acid)
Zea maizecr1n.pk0132.g312
Zea maizecr1n.pk0132.g3:fis2324

[0028] 2

TABLE 1B
Sarcosine Oxidases
SEQ ID NO:
SpeciesClone Designation(Nucleotide)(Amino Acid)
Zea maizecbn10.pk0034.f734
Oryza sativarlr6.pk0064.f1256
Glycine maxs2.24a0678
Triticum aestivumwlm4.pk0002.c12910
Zea maizecbn10.pk0034.f7:fis2526
Oryza sativarlr6.pk0064.f122728
Glycine maxs2.24a06:fis2930
Triticum aestivumwlm4.pk0002.c12:fis3132

[0029] 3

TABLE 1C
Phosphoserine Phosphatases
SEQ ID NO:
SpeciesClone Designation(Nucleotide)(Amino Acid)
Zea maizecsi1n.pk0043.f91112
Oryza sativarls6.pk0001.f21314
Zea maizeecsi1n.pk0043.f9:fis3334
Oryza sativarls6.pk0001.f2:fis3536

[0030] 4

TABLE 1D
L-allo-threonine Aldolases
SEQ ID NO:
SpeciesClone Designation(Nucleotide)(Amino Acid)
Zea maizecen1.pk0013.g121516
Oryza sativarlr24.pk0097.h81718
Glycine maxsfl1.pk0028.a21920
Triticum aestivumwlk4.pk0014.d112122
Zea maizecen1.pk0013.g12:fis3738
Oryza sativarlr24.pk0097.h8:fis3940
Glycine maxsfl1.pk0028.a2:fis4142

[0031] The Sequence Listing contains the one letter code for nucleotide sequence characters and the three letter codes for amino acids as defined in conformity with the IUPAC-IUBMB standards described in Nucleic Acids Res. 13:3021-3030 (1985) and in the Biochemical J. 219 (No. 2):345-373 (1984) which are herein incorporated by reference. The symbols and format used for nucleotide and amino acid sequence data comply with the rules set forth in 37 C.F.R. §1.822.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0032] In the context of this disclosure, a number of terms shall be utilized. The terms “polynucleotide”, “polynucleotide sequence”, “nucleic acid sequence”, and “nucleic acid fragment”/“isolated nucleic acid fragment” are used interchangeably herein. These terms encompass nucleotide sequences and the like. A polynucleotide may be a polymer of RNA or DNA that is single- or double-stranded, that optionally contains synthetic, non-natural or altered nucleotide bases. A polynucleotide in the form of a polymer of DNA may be comprised of one or more segments of cDNA, genomic DNA, synthetic DNA, or mixtures thereof. An isolated polynucleotide of the present invention may include all the nucleotides shown in the sequence listing, or any integer between that number and at least 60 contiguous nucleotides, preferably at least 40 contiguous nucleotides, most preferably at least 30 contiguous nucleotides derived from SEQ ID NOs:1, 23, 3, 5, 7, 9, 25, 27, 29, 31, 11, 13, 33, 35, 15, 17, 19, 21, 37, 39, and 41, or the complement of such sequences.

[0033] The term “isolated” polynucleotide refers to a polynucleotide that is substantially free from other nucleic acid sequences, such as and not limited to other chromosomal and extrachromosomal DNA and RNA. Isolated polynucleotides may be purified from a host cell in which they naturally occur. Conventional nucleic acid purification methods known to skilled artisans may be used to obtain isolated polynucleotides. The term also embraces recombinant polynucleotides and chemically synthesized polynucleotides.

[0034] The term “recombinant” means, for example, that a nucleic acid sequence is made by an artificial combination of two otherwise separated segments of sequence, e.g., by chemical synthesis or by the manipulation of isolated nucleic acids by genetic engineering techniques.

[0035] As used herein, “substantially similar” refers to nucleic acid fragments wherein changes in one or more nucleotide bases results in substitution of one or more amino acids, but do not affect the functional properties of the polypeptide encoded by the nucleotide sequence. “Substantially similar” also refers to nucleic acid fragments wherein changes in one or more nucleotide bases does not affect the ability of the nucleic acid fragment to mediate alteration of gene expression by gene silencing through for example antisense or co-suppression technology. “Substantially similar” also refers to modifications of the nucleic acid fragments of the instant invention such as deletion or insertion of one or more nucleotides that do not substantially affect the functional properties of the resulting transcript vis-á-vis the ability to mediate gene silencing or alteration of the functional properties of the resulting protein molecule. It is therefore understood that the invention encompasses more than the specific exemplary nucleotide or amino acid sequences and includes functional equivalents thereof. The terms “substantially similar” and “corresponding substantially” are used interchangeably herein.

[0036] Substantially similar nucleic acid fragments may be selected by screening nucleic acid fragments representing subfragments or modifications of the nucleic acid fragments of the instant invention, wherein one or more nucleotides are substituted, deleted and/or inserted, for their ability to affect the level of the polypeptide encoded by the unmodified nucleic acid fragment in a plant or plant cell. For example, a substantially similar nucleic acid fragment representing at least 30 contiguous nucleotides derived from the instant nucleic acid fragment can be constructed and introduced into a plant or plant cell. The level of the polypeptide encoded by the unmodified nucleic acid fragment present in a plant or plant cell exposed to the substantially similar nucleic fragment can then be compared to the level of the polypeptide in a plant or plant cell that is not exposed to the substantially similar nucleic acid fragment.

[0037] For example, it is well known in the art that antisense suppression and co-suppression of gene expression may be accomplished using nucleic acid fragments representing less than the entire coding region of a gene, and by using nucleic acid fragments that do not share 100% sequence identity with the gene to be suppressed. Moreover, alterations in a nucleic acid fragment which result in the production of a chemically equivalent amino acid at a given site, but do not effect the functional properties of the encoded polypeptide, are well known in the art. Thus, a codon for the amino acid alanine, a hydrophobic amino acid, may be substituted by a codon encoding another less hydrophobic residue, such as glycine, or a more hydrophobic residue, such as valine, leucine, or isoleucine. Similarly, changes which result in substitution of one negatively charged residue for another, such as aspartic acid for glutamic acid, or one positively charged residue for another, such as lysine for arginine, can also be expected to produce a functionally equivalent product. Nucleotide changes which result in alteration of the N-terminal and C-terminal portions of the polypeptide molecule would also not be expected to alter the activity of the polypeptide. Each of the proposed modifications is well within the routine skill in the art, as is determination of retention of biological activity of the encoded products. Consequently, an isolated polynucleotide comprising a nucleotide sequence of at least 60 (preferably at least 40, most preferably at least 30) contiguous nucleotides derived from a nucleotide sequence selected from the group consisting of SEQ ID NOs:1, 23, 3, 5, 7, 9, 25, 27, 29, 31, 11, 13, 33, 35, 15, 17, 19, 21, 37, 39, and 41, and the complement of such nucleotide sequences may be used in methods of selecting an isolated polynucleotide that affects the expression of a choline oxidase, L-allo-threonine aldolase, phosphoserine phosphatase, or sarcosine oxidase in a host cell. A method of selecting an isolated polynucleotide that affects the level of expression of a polypeptide in a virus or in a host cell (eukaryotic, such as plant or yeast, prokaryotic such as bacterial) may comprise the steps of: constructing an isolated polynucleotide of the present invention or an isolated chimeric gene of the present invention; introducing the isolated polynucleotide or the isolated chimeric gene into a host cell; measuring the level of a polypeptide or enzyme activity in the host cell containing the isolated polynucleotide; and comparing the level of a polypeptide or enzyme activity in the host cell containing the isolated polynucleotide with the level of a polypeptide or enzyme activity in a host cell that does not contain the isolated polynucleotide.

[0038] Moreover, substantially similar nucleic acid fragments may also be characterized by their ability to hybridize. Estimates of such homology are provided by either DNA-DNA or DNA-RNA hybridization under conditions of stringency as is well understood by those skilled in the art (Hames and Higgins, Eds. (1985) Nucleic Acid Hybridisation, IRL Press, Oxford, U.K.). Stringency conditions can be adjusted to screen for moderately similar fragments, such as homologous sequences from distantly related organisms, to highly similar fragments, such as genes that duplicate functional enzymes from closely related organisms. Post-hybridization washes determine stringency conditions. One set of preferred conditions uses a series of washes starting with 6×SSC, 0.5% SDS at room temperature for 15 min, then repeated with 2×SSC, 0.5% SDS at 45° C. for 30 min, and then repeated twice with 0.2×SSC, 0.5% SDS at 50° C. for 30 min. A more preferred set of stringent conditions uses higher temperatures in which the washes are identical to those above except for the temperature of the final two 30 min washes in 0.2×SSC, 0.5% SDS was increased to 60° C. Another preferred set of highly stringent conditions uses two final washes in 0.1X SSC, 0.1% SDS at 65° C.

[0039] Substantially similar nucleic acid fragments of the instant invention may also be characterized by the percent identity of the amino acid sequences that they encode to the amino acid sequences disclosed herein, as determined by algorithms commonly employed by those skilled in this art. Suitable nucleic acid fragments (isolated polynucleotides of the present invention) encode polypeptides that are at least about 70% identical, preferably at least about 80% identical to the amino acid sequences reported herein. Preferred nucleic acid fragments encode amino acid sequences that are at least about 85% identical to the amino acid sequences reported herein. More preferred nucleic acid fragments encode amino acid sequences that are at least about 90% identical to the amino acid sequences reported herein. Most preferred are nucleic acid fragments that encode amino acid sequences that are at least about 95% identical to the amino acid sequences reported herein. Suitable nucleic acid fragments not only have the above identities but typically encode a polypeptide having at least 50 amino acids, preferably at least 100 amino acids, more preferably at least 150 amino acids, still more preferably at least 200 amino acids, and most preferably at least 250 amino acids. Sequence alignments and percent identity calculations were performed using the Megalign program of the LASERGENE bioinformatics computing suite (DNASTAR Inc., Madison, Wis.). Multiple alignment of the sequences was performed using the Clustal method of alignment (Higgins and Sharp (1989) CABIOS. 5:151-153) with the default parameters (GAP PENALTY=10, GAP LENGTH PENALTY=10). Default parameters for pairwise alignments using the Clustal method were KTUPLE 1, GAP PENALTY=3, WINDOW=5 and DIAGONALS SAVED=5.

[0040] A “substantial portion” of an amino acid or nucleotide sequence comprises an amino acid or a nucleotide sequence that is sufficient to afford putative identification of the protein or gene that the amino acid or nucleotide sequence comprises. Amino acid and nucleotide sequences can be evaluated either manually by one skilled in the art, or by using computer-based sequence comparison and identification tools that employ algorithms such as BLAST (Basic Local Alignment Search Tool; Altschul et al. (1993) J. Mol. Biol. 215:403-410; see also www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/BLAST/). In general, a sequence of ten or more contiguous amino acids or thirty or more contiguous nucleotides is necessary in order to putatively identify a polypeptide or nucleic acid sequence as homologous to a known protein or gene. Moreover, with respect to nucleotide sequences, gene-specific oligonucleotide probes comprising 30 or more contiguous nucleotides may be used in sequence-dependent methods of gene identification (e.g., Southern hybridization) and isolation (e.g., in situ hybridization of bacterial colonies or bacteriophage plaques). In addition, short oligonucleotides of 12 or more nucleotides may be used as amplification primers in PCR in order to obtain a particular nucleic acid fragment comprising the primers. Accordingly, a “substantial portion” of a nucleotide sequence comprises a nucleotide sequence that will afford specific identification and/or isolation of a nucleic acid fragment comprising the sequence. The instant specification teaches amino acid and nucleotide sequences encoding polypeptides that comprise one or more particular plant proteins. The skilled artisan, having the benefit of the sequences as reported herein, may now use all or a substantial portion of the disclosed sequences for purposes known to those skilled in this art. Accordingly, the instant invention comprises the complete sequences as reported in the accompanying Sequence Listing, as well as substantial portions of those sequences as defined above. “Codon degeneracy” refers to divergence in the genetic code permitting variation of the nucleotide sequence without effecting the amino acid sequence of an encoded polypeptide. Accordingly, the instant invention relates to any nucleic acid fragment comprising a nucleotide sequence that encodes all or a substantial portion of the amino acid sequences set forth herein. The skilled artisan is well aware of the “codon-bias” exhibited by a specific host cell in usage of nucleotide codons to specify a given amino acid. Therefore, when synthesizing a nucleic acid fragment for improved expression in a host cell, it is desirable to design the nucleic acid fragment such that its frequency of codon usage approaches the frequency of preferred codon usage of the host cell. “Synthetic nucleic acid fragments” can be assembled from oligonucleotide building blocks that are chemically synthesized using procedures known to those skilled in the art. These building blocks are ligated and annealed to form larger nucleic acid fragments which may then be enzymatically assembled to construct the entire desired nucleic acid fragment. “Chemically synthesized”, as related to a nucleic acid fragment, means that the component nucleotides were assembled in vitro. Manual chemical synthesis of nucleic acid fragments may be accomplished using well established procedures, or automated chemical synthesis can be performed using one of a number of commercially available machines. Accordingly, the nucleic acid fragments can be tailored for optimal gene expression based on optimization of the nucleotide sequence to reflect the codon bias of the host cell. The skilled artisan appreciates the likelihood of successful gene expression if codon usage is biased towards those codons favored by the host. Determination of preferred codons can be based on a survey of genes derived from the host cell where sequence information is available. “Gene” refers to a nucleic acid fragment that expresses a specific protein, including regulatory sequences preceding (5′ non-coding sequences) and following (3′ non-coding sequences) the coding sequence. “Native gene” refers to a gene as found in nature with its own regulatory sequences. “Chimeric gene” refers any gene that is not a native gene, comprising regulatory and coding sequences that are not found together in nature. Accordingly, a chimeric gene may comprise regulatory sequences and coding sequences that are derived from different sources, or regulatory sequences and coding sequences derived from the same source, but arranged in a manner different than that found in nature. “Endogenous gene” refers to a native gene in its natural location in the genome of an organism. A “foreign-gene” refers to a gene not normally found in the host organism, but that is introduced into the host organism by gene transfer. Foreign genes can comprise native genes inserted into a non-native organism, or chimeric genes. A “transgene” is a gene that has been introduced into the genome by a transformation procedure.

[0041] “Coding sequence” refers to a nucleotide sequence that codes for a specific amino acid sequence. “Regulatory sequences” refer to nucleotide sequences located upstream (5′ non-coding sequences), within, or downstream (3′ non-coding sequences) of a coding sequence, and which influence the transcription, RNA processing or stability, or translation of the associated coding sequence. Regulatory sequences may include promoters, translation leader sequences, introns, and polyadenylation recognition sequences.

[0042] “Promoter” refers to a nucleotide sequence capable of controlling the expression of a coding sequence or functional RNA. In general, a coding sequence is located 3′ to a promoter sequence. The promoter sequence consists of proximal and more distal upstream elements, the latter elements often referred to as enhancers. Accordingly, an “enhancer” is a nucleotide sequence which can stimulate promoter activity and may be an innate element of the promoter or a heterologous element inserted to enhance the level or tissue-specificity of a promoter. Promoters may be derived in their entirety from a native gene, or may be composed of different elements derived from different promoters found in nature, or may even comprise synthetic nucleotide segments. It is understood by those skilled in the art that different promoters may direct the expression of a gene in different tissues or cell types, or at different stages of development, or in response to different environmental conditions. Promoters which cause a nucleic acid fragment to be expressed in most cell types at most times are commonly referred to as “constitutive promoters”. New promoters of various types useful in plant cells are constantly being discovered; numerous examples may be found in the compilation by Okamuro and Goldberg (1989) Biochemistry of Plants 15:1-82. It is further recognized that since in most cases the exact boundaries of regulatory sequences have not been completely defined, nucleic acid fragments of different lengths may have identical promoter activity. “Translation leader sequence” refers to a nucleotide sequence located between the promoter sequence of a gene and the coding sequence. The translation leader sequence is present in the fully processed mRNA upstream of the translation start sequence. The translation leader sequence may affect processing of the primary transcript to mRNA, mRNA stability or translation efficiency. Examples of translation leader sequences have been described (Turner and Foster (1995) Mol. Biotechnol. 3:225-236).

[0043] “3′ non-coding sequences” refer to nucleotide sequences located downstream of a coding sequence and include polyadenylation recognition sequences and other sequences encoding regulatory signals capable of affecting mRNA processing or gene expression. The polyadenylation signal is usually characterized by affecting the addition of polyadenylic acid tracts to the 3′ end of the mRNA precursor. The use of different 3′ non-coding sequences is exemplified by Ingelbrecht et al. (1989) Plant Cell 1:671-680.

[0044] “RNA transcript” refers to the product resulting from RNA polymerase-catalyzed transcription of a DNA sequence. When the RNA transcript is a perfect complementary copy of the DNA sequence, it is referred to as the primary transcript or it may be a RNA sequence derived from posttranscriptional processing of the primary transcript and is referred to as the mature RNA. “Messenger RNA (mRNA)” refers to the RNA that is without introns and that can be translated into polypeptides by the cell. “cDNA” refers to DNA that is complementary to and derived from an mRNA template. The cDNA can be single-stranded or converted to double stranded form using, for example, the Klenow fragment of DNA polymerase I. “Sense-RNA” refers to an RNA transcript that includes the mRNA and so can be translated into a polypeptide by the cell. “Antisense RNA” refers to an RNA transcript that is complementary to all or part of a target primary transcript or mRNA and that blocks the expression of a target gene (see U.S. Pat. No. 5,107,065, incorporated herein by reference). The complementarity of an antisense RNA may be with any part of the specific nucleotide sequence, i.e., at the 5′ non-coding sequence, 3′ non-coding sequence, introns, or the coding sequence. “Functional RNA” refers to sense RNA, antisense RNA, ribozyme RNA, or other RNA that may not be translated but yet has an effect on cellular processes.

[0045] The term “operably linked” refers to the association of two or more nucleic acid fragments on a single polynucleotide so that the function of one is affected by the other. For example, a promoter is operably linked with a coding sequence when it is capable of affecting the expression of that coding sequence (i.e., that the coding sequence is under the transcriptional control of the promoter). Coding sequences can be operably linked to regulatory sequences in sense or antisense orientation.

[0046] The term “expression”, as used herein, refers to the transcription and stable accumulation of sense (mRNA) or antisense RNA derived from the nucleic acid fragment of the invention. Expression may also refer to translation of mRNA into a polypeptide. “Antisense inhibition” refers to the production of antisense RNA transcripts capable of suppressing the expression of the target protein. “Overexpression” refers to the production of a gene product in transgenic organisms that exceeds levels of production in normal or non-transformed organisms. “Co-suppression” refers to the production of sense RNA transcripts capable of suppressing the expression of identical or substantially similar foreign or endogenous genes (U.S. Pat. No. 5,231,020, incorporated herein by reference).

[0047] A “protein” or “polypeptide” is a chain of amino acids arranged in a specific order determined by the coding sequence in a polynucleotide encoding the polypeptide. Each protein or polypeptide has a unique function.

[0048] “Altered levels” or “altered expression” refers to the production of gene product(s) in transgenic organisms in amounts or proportions that differ from that of normal or non- transformed organisms.

[0049] “Mature protein” or the term “mature” when used in describing a protein refers to a post-translationally processed polypeptide; i.e., one from which any pre- or propeptides present in the primary translation product have been removed. “Precursor protein” or the term “precursor” when used in describing a protein refers to the primary product of translation of mRNA; i.e., with pre- and propeptides still present. Pre- and propeptides may be but are not limited to intracellular localization signals.

[0050] A “chloroplast transit peptide” is an amino acid sequence which is translated in conjunction with a protein and directs the protein to the chloroplast or other plastid types present in the cell in which the protein is made. “Chloroplast transit sequence” refers to a nucleotide sequence that encodes a chloroplast transit peptide. A “signal peptide” is an amino acid sequence which is translated in conjunction with a protein and directs the protein to the secretory system (Chrispeels (1991) Ann. Rev. Plant Phys. Plant Mol. Biol. 42:21-53). If the protein is to be directed to a vacuole, a vacuolar targeting signal (supra) can further be added, or if to the endoplasmic reticulum, an endoplasmic reticulum retention signal (supra) may be added. If the protein is to be directed to the nucleus, any signal peptide present should be removed and instead a nuclear localization signal included (Raikhel (1992) Plant Phys. 100:1627-1632).

[0051] “Transformation” refers to the transfer of a nucleic acid fragment into the genome of a host organism, resulting in genetically stable inheritance. Host organisms containing the transformed nucleic acid fragments are referred to as “transgenic” organisms. Examples of methods of plant transformation include Agrobacterium-mediated transformation (De Blaere et al. (1987) Meth. Enzymol. 143:277) and particle-accelerated or “gene gun” transformation technology (Klein et al. (1987) Nature (London) 327:70-73; U.S. Pat. No. 4,945,050, incorporated herein by reference). Thus, isolated polynucleotides of the present invention can be incorporated into recombinant constructs, typically DNA constructs, capable of introduction into and replication in a host cell. Such a construct can be a vector that includes a replication system and sequences that are capable of transcription and translation of a polypeptide-encoding sequence in a given host cell. A number of vectors suitable for stable transfection of plant cells or for the establishment of transgenic plants have been described in, e.g., Pouwels et al., Cloning Vectors: A Laboratory Manual, 1985, supp. 1987; Weissbach and Weissbach, Methods for Plant Molecular Biology, Academic Press, 1989; and Flevin et al., Plant Molecular Biology Manual, Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1990. Typically, plant expression vectors include, for example, one or more cloned plant genes under the transcriptional control of 5′ and 3′ regulatory sequences and a dominant selectable marker. Such plant expression vectors also can contain a promoter regulatory region (e.g., a regulatory region controlling inducible or constitutive, environmentally- or developmentally-regulated, or cell- or tissue-specific expression), a transcription initiation start site, a ribosome binding site, an RNA processing signal, a transcription termination site, and/or a polyadenylation signal.

[0052] Standard recombinant DNA and molecular cloning techniques used herein are well known in the art and are described more fully in Sambrook et al. Molecular Cloning: A Laboratory Manual; Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press: Cold Spring Harbor, 1989 (hereinafter “Maniatis”).

[0053] “PCR” or “polymerase chain reaction” is well known by those skilled in the art as a technique used for the amplification of specific DNA segments (U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,683,195 and 4,800,159).

[0054] Nucleic acid fragments encoding at least a portion of several glycine metabolism enzymes have been isolated and identified by comparison of random plant cDNA sequences to public databases containing nucleotide and protein sequences using the BLAST algorithms well known to those skilled in the art. The nucleic acid fragments of the instant invention may be used to isolate cDNAs and genes encoding homologous proteins from the same or other plant species. Isolation of homologous genes using sequence-dependent protocols is well known in the art. Examples of sequence-dependent protocols include, but are not limited to, methods of nucleic acid hybridization, and methods of DNA and RNA amplification as exemplified by various uses of nucleic acid amplification technologies (e.g., polymerase chain reaction, ligase chain reaction).

[0055] For example, genes encoding other choline oxidases, L-allo-threonine aldolases, phosphoserine phosphatases, or sarcosine oxidases, either as cDNAs or genomic DNAs, could be isolated directly by using all or a portion of the instant nucleic acid fragments as DNA hybridization probes to screen libraries from any desired plant employing methodology well known to those skilled in the art. Specific oligonucleotide probes based upon the instant nucleic acid sequences can be designed and synthesized by methods known in the art (Maniatis). Moreover, an entire sequence can be used directly to synthesize DNA probes by methods known to the skilled artisan such as random primer DNA labeling, nick translation, end-labeling techniques, or RNA probes using available in vitro transcription systems. In addition, specific primers can be designed and used to amplify a part or all of the instant sequences. The resulting amplification products can be labeled directly during amplification reactions or labeled after amplification reactions, and used as probes to isolate full length cDNA or genomic fragments under conditions of appropriate stringency.

[0056] In addition, two short segments of the instant nucleic acid fragments may be used in polymerase chain reaction protocols to amplify longer nucleic acid fragments encoding homologous genes from DNA or RNA. The polymerase chain reaction may also be performed on a library of cloned nucleic acid fragments wherein the sequence of one primer is derived from the instant nucleic acid fragments, and the sequence of the other primer takes advantage of the presence of the polyadenylic acid tracts to the 3′ end of the mRNA precursor encoding plant genes. Alternatively, the second primer sequence may be based upon sequences derived from the cloning vector. For example, the skilled artisan can follow the RACE protocol (Frohman et al. (1988) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 85:8998-9002) to generate cDNAs by using PCR to amplify copies of the region between a single point in the transcript and the 3′ or 5′ end. Primers oriented in the 3′ and 5′ directions can be designed from the instant sequences. Using commercially available 3′ RACE or 5′ RACE systems (BRL), specific 3′ or 5′ cDNA fragments can be isolated (Ohara et al. (1989) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 86:5673-5677; Loh et al. (1989) Science 243:217-220). Products generated by the 3′ and 5′ RACE procedures can be combined to generate full-length cDNAs (Frohman and Martin (1989) Techniques 1:165). Consequently, a polynucleotide comprising a nucleotide sequence of at least 60 (preferably at least 40, most preferably at least 30) contiguous nucleotides derived from a nucleotide sequence selected from the group consisting of SEQ ID NOs:1, 23, 3, 5, 7, 9, 25, 27, 29, 31, 11, 13, 33, 35, 15, 17, 19, 21, 37, 39, and 41, and the complement of such nucleotide sequences may be used in such methods to obtain a nucleic acid fragment encoding a substantial portion of an amino acid sequence of a polypeptide.

[0057] The present invention relates to a method of obtaining a nucleic acid fragment encoding a substantial portion of a choline oxidase, a L-allo-threonine aldolase, a phosphoserine phosphatase, or a sarcosine oxidase, preferably a substantial portion of a plant glycine metabolism enzyme, comprising the steps of: synthesizing an oligonucleotide primer comprising a nucleotide sequence of at least 60 (preferably at least 40, most preferably at least 30) contiguous nucleotides derived from a nucleotide sequence selected from the group consisting of SEQ ID NOs:1, 23, 3, 5, 7, 9, 25, 27, 29, 31, 11, 13, 33, 35, 15, 17, 19, 21, 37, 39, and 41, and the complement of such nucleotide sequences; and amplifying a nucleic acid fragment (preferably a cDNA inserted in a cloning vector) using the oligonucleotide primer. The amplified nucleic acid fragment preferably will encode at least a portion of a choline oxidase, L-allo-threonine aldolase, phosphoserine phosphatase, or sarcosine oxidase polypeptide.

[0058] Availability of the instant nucleotide and deduced amino acid sequences facilitates immunological screening of cDNA expression libraries. Synthetic peptides representing portions of the instant amino acid sequences may be synthesized. These peptides can be used to immunize animals to produce polyclonal or monoclonal antibodies with specificity for peptides or proteins comprising the amino acid sequences. These antibodies can be then be used to screen cDNA expression libraries to isolate full-length cDNA clones of interest (Lerner (1984) Adv. Immunol. 36:1-34; Maniatis).

[0059] In another embodiment, this invention concerns viruses and host cells comprising either the chimeric genes of the invention as described herein or an isolated polynucleotide of the invention as described herein. Examples of host cells which can be used to practice the invention include, but are not limited to, yeast, bacteria, and plants.

[0060] As was noted above, the nucleic acid fragments of the instant invention may be used to create transgenic plants in which the disclosed polypeptides are present at higher or lower levels than normal, or in cell types or developmental stages in which they are not normally found. This would have the effect of altering the level of glycine in those cells. Manipulation of choline oxidase results in changes in stress tolerance of the cell. Stress may be due to lack of water, high salt content in the soil, or cold weather. Manipulation of the choline oxidase levels also results in the production of plants with increased levels of betaine. These plants may be used for the preparation of animal feed. Manipulation of phosphoserine phosphatase will result in changes in the available serine in the non-photosynthetic tissues.

[0061] Overexpression of the proteins of the instant invention may be accomplished by first constructing a chimeric gene in which the coding region is operably linked to a promoter capable of directing expression of a gene in the desired tissues at the desired stage of development. The chimeric gene may comprise promoter sequences and translation leader sequences derived from the same genes. 3′ Non-coding sequences encoding transcription termination signals may also be provided. The instant chimeric gene may also comprise one or more introns in order to facilitate gene expression.

[0062] Plasmid vectors comprising the instant isolated polynucleotide (or chimeric gene) may be constructed. The choice of plasmid vector is dependent upon the method that will be used to transform host plants. The skilled artisan is well aware of the genetic elements that must be present on the plasmid vector in order to successfully transform, select and propagate host cells containing the chimeric gene. The skilled artisan will also recognize that different independent transformation events will result in different levels and patterns of expression (Jones et al. (1985) EMBO J. 4:2411-2418; De Almeida et al. (1 989) Mol. Gen. Genetics 218:78-86), and thus that multiple events must be screened in order to obtain lines displaying the desired expression level and pattern. Such screening may be accomplished by Southern analysis of DNA, Northern analysis of mRNA expression, Western analysis of protein expression, or phenotypic analysis.

[0063] For some applications it may be useful to direct the instant polypeptides to different cellular compartments, or to facilitate their secretion from the cell. It is thus envisioned that the chimeric genes described above may be further supplemented by directing the coding sequences to encode the instant polypeptides with appropriate intracellular targeting sequences such as transit sequences (Keegstra (1989) Cell 56:247-253), signal sequences or sequences encoding endoplasmic reticulum localization signals (Chrispeels (1991) Ann. Rev. Plant Phys. Plant Mol. Biol. 42:21-53), or nuclear localization signals (Raikhel (1992) Plant Phys. 100:1627-1632) with or without removing targeting sequences that are already present. While the references cited give examples of each of these, the list is not exhaustive and more targeting signals of use may be discovered in the future.

[0064] It may also be desirable to reduce or eliminate expression of genes encoding the instant polypeptides in plants for some applications. In order to accomplish this, a chimeric gene designed for co-suppression of the instant polypeptide can be constructed by linking a gene or gene fragment encoding that polypeptide to plant promoter sequences. Alternatively, a chimeric gene designed to express antisense RNA for all or part of the instant nucleic acid fragment can be constructed by linking the gene or gene fragment in reverse orientation to plant promoter sequences. Either the co-suppression or antisense chimeric genes could be introduced into plants via transformation wherein expression of the corresponding endogenous genes are reduced or eliminated.

[0065] Molecular genetic solutions to the generation of plants with altered gene expression have a decided advantage over more traditional plant breeding approaches. Changes in plant phenotypes can be produced by specifically inhibiting expression of one or more genes by antisense inhibition or cosuppression (U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,190,931, 5,107,065 and 5,283,323). An antisense or cosuppression construct would act as a dominant negative regulator of gene activity. While conventional mutations can yield negative regulation of gene activity these effects are most likely recessive. The dominant negative regulation available with a transgenic approach may be advantageous from a breeding perspective. In addition, the ability to restrict the expression of a specific phenotype to the reproductive tissues of the plant by the use of tissue specific promoters may confer agronomic advantages relative to conventional mutations which may have an effect in all tissues in which a mutant gene is ordinarily expressed.

[0066] The person skilled in the art will know that special considerations are associated with the use of antisense or cosuppression technologies in order to reduce expression of particular genes. For example, the proper level of expression of sense or antisense genes may require the use of different chimeric genes utilizing different regulatory elements known to the skilled artisan. Once transgenic plants are obtained by one of the methods described above, it will be necessary to screen individual transgenics for those that most effectively display the desired phenotype. Accordingly, the skilled artisan will develop methods for screening large numbers of transformants. The nature of these screens will generally be chosen on practical grounds. For example, one can screen by looking for changes in gene expression by using antibodies specific for the protein encoded by the gene being suppressed, or one could establish assays that specifically measure enzyme activity. A preferred method will be one which allows large numbers of samples to be processed rapidly, since it will be expected that a large number of transformants will be negative for the desired phenotype.

[0067] The instant polypeptides (or portions thereof) may be produced in heterologous host cells, particularly in the cells of microbial hosts, and can be used to prepare antibodies to these proteins by methods well known to those skilled in the art. The antibodies are useful for detecting the polypeptides of the instant invention in situ in cells or in vitro in cell extracts. Preferred heterologous host cells for production of the instant polypeptides are microbial hosts. Microbial expression systems and expression vectors containing regulatory sequences that direct high level expression of foreign proteins are well known to those skilled in the art. Any of these could be used to construct a chimeric gene for production of the instant polypeptides. This chimeric gene could then be introduced into appropriate microorganisms via transformation to provide high level expression of the encoded glycine metabolism enzymes. An example of a vector for high level expression of the instant polypeptides in a bacterial host is provided (Example 9).

[0068] Additionally, the instant polypeptides can be used as targets to facilitate design and/or identification of inhibitors of those enzymes that may be useful as herbicides. This is desirable because the polypeptides described herein catalyze various steps in glycine metabolism. Accordingly, inhibition of the activity of one or more of the enzymes described herein could lead to inhibition of plant growth. Thus, the instant polypeptides could be appropriate for new herbicide discovery and design.

[0069] All or a substantial portion of the polynucleotides of the instant invention may also be used as probes for genetically and physically mapping the genes that they are a part of, and used as markers for traits linked to those genes. Such information may be useful in plant breeding in order to develop lines with desired phenotypes. For example, the instant nucleic acid fragments may be used as restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) markers. Southern blots (Maniatis) of restriction-digested plant genomic DNA may be probed with the nucleic acid fragments of the instant invention. The resulting banding patterns may then be subjected to genetic analyses using computer programs such as MapMaker (Lander et al. (1987) Genomics 1:174-181) in order to construct a genetic map. In addition, the nucleic acid fragments of the instant invention may be used to probe Southern blots containing restriction endonuclease-treated genomic DNAs of a set of individuals representing parent and progeny of a defined genetic cross. Segregation of the DNA polymorphisms is noted and used to calculate the position of the instant nucleic acid sequence in the genetic map previously obtained using this population (Botstein et al. (1980) Am. J. Hum. Genet. 32:314-331).

[0070] The production and use of plant gene-derived probes for use in genetic mapping is described in Bernatzky and Tanksley (1986) Plant Mol. Biol. Reporter 4:37-41. Numerous publications describe genetic mapping of specific cDNA clones using the methodology outlined above or variations thereof. For example, F2 intercross populations, backcross populations, randomly mated populations, near isogenic lines, and other sets of individuals may be used for mapping. Such methodologies are well known to those skilled in the art.

[0071] Nucleic acid probes derived from the instant nucleic acid sequences may also be used for physical mapping (i.e., placement of sequences on physical maps; see Hoheisel et al. In: Nonmammalian Genomic Analysis: A Practical Guide, Academic press 1996, pp. 319-346, and references cited therein).

[0072] In another embodiment, nucleic acid probes derived from the instant nucleic acid sequences may be used in direct fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) mapping (Trask (1991) Trends Genet. 7:149-154). Although current methods of FISH mapping favor use of large clones (several to several hundred KB; see Laan et al. (1995) Genome Res. 5:13-20), improvements in sensitivity may allow performance of FISH mapping using shorter probes.

[0073] A variety of nucleic acid amplification-based methods of genetic and physical mapping may be carried out using the instant nucleic acid sequences. Examples include allele-specific amplification (Kazazian (1989) J. Lab. Clin. Med. 11:95-96), polymorphism of PCR-amplified fragments (CAPS; Sheffield et al. (1993) Genomics 16:325-332), allele-specific ligation (Landegren et al. (1988) Science 241:1077-1080), nucleotide extension reactions (Sokolov (1990) Nucleic Acid Res. 18:3671), Radiation Hybrid Mapping (Walter et al. (1997) Nat. Genet. 7:22-28) and Happy Mapping (Dear and Cook (1989) Nucleic Acid Res. 1 7:6795-6807). For these methods, the sequence of a nucleic acid fragment is used to design and produce primer pairs for use in the amplification reaction or in primer extension reactions. The design of such primers is well known to those skilled in the art. In methods employing PCR-based genetic mapping, it may be necessary to identify DNA sequence differences between the parents of the mapping cross in the region corresponding to the instant nucleic acid sequence. This, however, is generally not necessary for mapping methods.

[0074] Loss of function mutant phenotypes may be identified for the instant cDNA clones either by targeted gene disruption protocols or by identifying specific mutants for these genes contained in a maize population carrying mutations in all possible genes (Ballinger and Benzer (1989) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci USA 86:9402-9406; Koes et al. (1995) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci USA 92:8149-8153; Bensen et al. (1995) Plant Cell 7:75-84). The latter approach may be accomplished in two ways. First, short segments of the instant nucleic acid fragments may be used in polymerase chain reaction protocols in conjunction with a mutation tag sequence primer on DNAs prepared from a population of plants in which Mutator transposons or some other mutation-causing DNA element has been introduced (see Bensen, supra). The amplification of a specific DNA fragment with these primers indicates the insertion of the mutation tag element in or near the plant gene encoding the instant polypeptides. Alternatively, the instant nucleic acid fragment may be used as a hybridization probe against PCR amplification products generated from the mutation population using the mutation tag sequence primer in conjunction with an arbitrary genomic site primer, such as that for a restriction enzyme site-anchored synthetic adaptor. With either method, a plant containing a mutation in the endogenous gene encoding the instant polypeptides can be identified and obtained. This mutant plant can then be used to determine or confirm the natural function of the instant polypeptides disclosed herein.

[0075] The polynucleotide sequences encoding choline oxidases of the present invention may be used to create transgenic plants with high levels of betaine. These plants may then be processed for use as feed. The feed may be prepared as a seed meal where the betaine is produced in an oilseed. Examples of meals include corn, flax, cottonseed, canola, and sunflower. Alternately, the betaine can be provided with the green tissue of plants such as alfalfa, sorghum, and silage corn. Additives may be added to the plant or plant parts containing high levels of betaine to supplement the nutritional needs or growth rate of the animals. These additives include animal and vegetable fats, salt, lysine, choline, methionine, vitamins and minerals. The compositions can include other components known in the art, for example, as described in Feed Stuffs (1998) 70.

[0076] Conventional techniques for harvesting and processing plant crops into forms useful as animal feed are used. The plants or plant forms of the present invention have high levels of betaine accumulated. The plant having accumulated betaine also can be grown and consumed directly by the animal without harvesting or subsequent processing.

[0077] Betaine may be derived from the transgenic plants where it is produced by crushing, grinding, agitation, heating, cooling, pressure, vacuum, sonication, centrifugation, and/or radiation treatments, and any other art recognized procedures, which are typical of alfalfa or corn biomass processing such a process is described in U.S. Pat. No. 5, 824,779 to Koegel et al. The betaine may be derived from a plant part. For example, betaine may be found in betaine- containing oilseed or the byproducts of oilseed processing, such as the meal. Oilseed meal frequently is utilized in the animal feed industry.

EXAMPLES

[0078] The present invention is further defined in the following Examples, in which parts and percentages are by weight and degrees are Celsius, unless otherwise stated. It should be understood that these Examples, while indicating preferred embodiments of the invention, are given by way of illustration only. From the above discussion and these Examples, one skilled in the art can ascertain the essential characteristics of this invention, and without departing from the spirit and scope thereof, can make various changes and modifications of the invention to adapt it to various usages and conditions. Thus, various modifications of the invention in addition to those shown and described herein will be apparent to those skilled in the art from the foregoing description. Such modifications are also intended to fall within the scope of the appended claims.

[0079] The disclosure of each reference set forth herein is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

Example 1

Composition of cDNA Libraries Isolation and Sequencing of cDNA Clones

[0080] cDNA libraries representing mRNAs from various corn, rice, soybean, and wheat tissues were prepared. The characteristics of the libraries are described below. 5

TABLE 2
cDNA Libraries from Corn, Rice, Soybean, and Wheat
LibraryTissueClone
cbn10Corn Developing Kernel; 10 Days Aftercbn10.pk0034.f7
Pollination
cen1Corn Endosperm 10-11 Days Aftercen1.pk0013.g12
Pollination
cr1nCorn Root From 7 Day Old Seedlings*cr1n.pk0132.g3
csi1nCorn Silk*csi1n.pk0043.f9
rlr24Rice Leaf 15 Days After Germination, 24rlr24.pk0097.h8
Hours After Infection of Strain Magaporthe
grisea 4360-R-62 (AVR2-YAMO), resistant
rlr6Rice Leaf 15 Days After Germination, 6rlr6.pk0064.f12
Hours After Infection of Strain Magaporthe
grisea 4360-R-62 (AVR2-YAMO), resistant
rls6Rice Leaf 15 Days After Germination, 6rls6.pk0001.f2
Hours After Infection of Strain Magaporthe
grisea 4360-R-67 (AVR2-YAMO), sensitive
s2Soybean Seed, 19 Days After Flowerings2.24a06
sfl1Soybean Immature Flowersfl1.pk0028.a2
wlk4Wheat Seedlings 4 Hours After Treatmentwlk4.pk0014.d11
With Herbicide**
wlm4Wheat Seedlings 4 Hours After Inoculationwlm4.pk0002.c12
With Erysiphe graminis f. sp tritici
*These libraries were normalized essentially as described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,482,845, incorporated herein by reference.
**Application of 6-iodo-2-propoxy-3-propyl-4(3H)-quinazolinone; synthesis and methods of using this compound are described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,747,497, incorporated herein by reference.

[0081] cDNA libraries may be prepared by any one of many methods available. For example, the cDNAs may be introduced into plasmid vectors by first preparing the cDNA libraries in Uni-ZAP™ XR vectors according to the manufacturer's protocol (Stratagene Cloning Systems, La Jolla, Calif.). The Uni-ZAP™ XR libraries are converted into plasmid libraries according to the protocol provided by Stratagene. Upon conversion, cDNA inserts will be contained in the plasmid vector pBluescript. In addition, the cDNAs may be introduced directly into precut Bluescript II SK(+) vectors (Stratagene) using T4 DNA ligase (New England Biolabs), followed by transfection into DH10 B cells according to the manufacturer's protocol (GIBCO BRL Products). Once the cDNA inserts are in plasmid vectors, plasmid DNAs are prepared from randomly picked bacterial colonies containing recombinant pBluescript plasmids, or the insert cDNA sequences are amplified via polymerase chain reaction using primers specific for vector sequences flanking the inserted cDNA sequences. Amplified insert DNAs or plasmid DNAs are sequenced in dye-primer sequencing reactions to generate partial cDNA sequences (expressed sequence tags or “ESTs”; see Adams et al., (1991) Science 252:1651-1656). The resulting ESTs are analyzed using a Perkin Elmer Model 377 fluorescent sequencer.

[0082] Full-insert sequence (FIS) data is generated utilizing a modified transposition protocol. Clones identified for FIS are recovered from archived glycerol stocks as single colonies, and plasmid DNAs are isolated via alkaline lysis. Isolated DNA templates are reacted with vector primed M13 forward and reverse oligonucleotides in a PCR-based sequencing reaction and loaded onto automated sequencers. Confirmation of clone identification is performed by sequence alignment to the original EST sequence from which the FIS request is made.

[0083] Confirmed templates are transposed via the Primer Island transposition kit (PE Applied Biosystems, Foster City, Calif.) which is based upon the Saccharomyces cerevisiae Tyl transposable element (Devine and Boeke (1994) Nucleic Acids Res. 22:3765-3772). The in vitro transposition system places unique binding sites randomly throughout a population of large DNA molecules. The transposed DNA is then used to transform DH 10B electro-competent cells (Gibco BRL/Life Technologies, Rockville, Md.) via electroporation. The transposable element contains an additional selectable marker (named DHFR; Fling and Richards (1983) Nucleic Acids Res. 11:5147-5158), allowing for dual selection on agar plates of only those subclones containing the integrated transposon. Multiple subclones are randomly selected from each transposition reaction, plasmid DNAs are prepared via alkaline lysis, and templates are sequenced (ABI Prism dye-terminator ReadyReaction mix) outward from the transposition event site, utilizing unique primers specific to the binding sites within the transposon.

[0084] Sequence data is collected (ABI Prism Collections) and assembled using Phred/Phrap (P. Green, University of Washington, Seattle). Phrep/Phrap is a public domain software program which re-reads the ABI sequence data, re-calls the bases, assigns quality values, and writes the base calls and quality values into editable output files. The Phrap sequence assembly program uses these quality values to increase the accuracy of the assembled sequence contigs. Assemblies are viewed by the Consed sequence editor (D. Gordon, University of Washington, Seattle).

[0085] In some of the clones the cDNA fragment corresponds to a portion of the 3′-terminus of the gene and does not cover the entire open reading frame. In order to obtain the upstream information one of two different protocols are used. The first of these methods results in the production of a fragment of DNA containing a portion of the desired gene sequence while the second method results in the production of a fragment containing the entire open reading frame. Both of these methods use two rounds of PCR amplification to obtain fragments from one or more libraries. The libraries some times are chosen based on previous knowledge that the specific gene should be found in a certain tissue and some times are randomly-chosen. Reactions to obtain the same gene may be performed on several libraries in parallel or on a pool of libraries. Library pools are normally prepared using from 3 to 5 different libraries and normalized to a uniform dilution. In the first round of amplification both methods use a vector-specific (forward) primer corresponding to a portion of the vector located at the 5′-terminus of the clone coupled with a gene-specific (reverse) primer. The first method uses a sequence that is complementary to a portion of the already known gene sequence while the second method uses a gene-specific primer complementary to a portion of the 3′-untranslated region (also referred to as UTR). In the second round of amplification a nested set of primers is used for both methods. The resulting DNA fragment is ligated into a pBluescript vector using a commercial kit and following the manufacturer's protocol. This kit is selected from many available from several vendors including Invitrogen (Carlsbad, Calif.), Promega Biotech (Madison, Wis.), and Gibco-BRL (Gaithersburg, Md.). The plasmid DNA is isolated by alkaline lysis method and submitted for sequencing and assembly using Phred/Phrap, as above.

Example 2

Identification of cDNA Clones

[0086] cDNA clones encoding glycine metabolism enzymes were identified by conducting BLAST (Basic Local Alignment Search Tool; Altschul et al. (1993) J. Mol. Biol. 215:403-410; see also www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/BLAST/) searches for similarity to sequences contained in the BLAST “nr” database (comprising all non-redundant GenBank CDS translations, sequences derived from the 3-dimensional structure Brookhaven Protein Data Dank, the last major release of the SWISS-PROT protein sequence database, EMBL, and DDBJ databases). The cDNA sequences obtained in Example 1 were analyzed for similarity to all publicly available DNA sequences contained in the “nr” database using the BLASTN algorithm provided by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). The DNA sequences were translated in all reading frames and compared for similarity to all publicly available protein sequences contained in the “nr” database using the BLASTX algorithm (Gish and States (1993) Nat. Genet. 3:266-272) provided by the NCBI. For convenience, the P-value (probability) of observing a match of a cDNA sequence to a sequence contained in the searched databases merely by chance as calculated by BLAST are reported herein as “pLog” values, which represent the negative of the logarithm of the reported P-value. Accordingly, the greater the pLog value, the greater the likelihood that the cDNA sequence and the BLAST “hit” represent homologous proteins.

[0087] ESTs submitted for analysis are compared to the genbank database as described above. ESTs that contain sequences more 5- or 3-prime can be found by using the BLASTn algorithm (Altschul et al (1997) Nucleic Acids Res. 25:3389-3402.) against the DuPont proprietary database comparing nucleotide sequences that share common or overlapping regions of sequence homology. Where common or overlapping sequences exist between two or more nucleic acid fragments, the sequences can be assembled into a single contiguous nucleotide sequence, thus extending the original fragment in either the 5 or 3 prime direction. Once the most 5-prime EST is identified, its complete sequence can be determined by Full Insert Sequencing as described in Example 1. Homologous genes belonging to different species can be found by comparing the amino acid sequence of a known gene (from either a proprietary source or a public database) against an EST database using the tBLASTn algorithm. The tBLASTn algorithm searches an amino acid query against a nucleotide database that is translated in all 6 reading frames. This search allows for differences in nucleotide codon usage between different species, and for codon degeneracy.

Example 3

Characterization of eDNA Clones Encoding Choline Oxidase

[0088] The BLASTX search using the EST sequence from clone cr1n.pk0132.g3 revealed similarity of the polypeptides encoded by the cDNAs to choline oxidase from Arthrobacter globiformis (NCBI General Identifier No. 685232). This individual EST gave a BLAST pLog score of 14.52.

[0089] The sequence of the entire cDNA insert in clone cr1n.pk0132.g3 was obtained. The BLASTP search using the amino acid sequence derived from the sequence of the entire cDNA insert in clone cr1n.pk0132.g3 revealed similarity of the polypeptides encoded by the cDNAs to choline oxidase from Arthrobacter globiformis (NCBI General Identifier No. 1075996) with a plog value of 77.0.

[0090] The data in Table 3 presents the clone name, the corresponding amino acid sequence SEQ ID NO:, and the percent identity of the amino acid sequences set forth in SEQ ID NOs:2 and 24 to the Arthrobacter globiformis sequence. 6

TABLE 3
Percent Identity of Amino Acid Sequences Deduced From the
Nucleotide Sequences of cDNA Clones Encoding
Polypeptides Homologous to Choline Oxidase
Percent Identity to
CloneSEQ ID NO.StatusNCBI G I No. 1075996
cr1n.pk0132.g32EST45.3
cr1n.pk0132.g3:fis24CGS28.5

[0091] Sequence alignments and percent identity calculations were performed using the Megalign program of the LASERGENE bioinformatics computing suite (DNASTAR Inc., Madison, Wis.). Multiple alignment of the sequences was performed using the Clustal method of alignment (Higgins and Sharp (1989) CABIOS. 5:151-153) with the default parameters (GAP PENALTY=10, GAP LENGTH PENALTY=10). Default parameters for pairwise alignments using the Clustal method were KTUPLE 1, GAP PENALTY=3, WINDOW=5 and DIAGONALS SAVED=5. Sequence alignments and BLAST scores and probabilities indicate that the nucleic acid fragments comprising the instant cDNA clones encode a portion and an entire corn choline oxidase. These sequences represent the first plant sequences encoding choline oxidase known to Applicant.

Example 4

Characterization of cDNA Clones Encoding Sarcosine Oxidase

[0092] The BLASTX search using the EST sequences from clones listed in Table 4 revealed similarity of the polypeptides encoded by the cDNAs to sarcosine oxidase from Mus musculus (NCBI General Identifier No. 2801411). Shown in Table 3 are the BLAST results for individual ESTs (“EST”): 7

TABLE 4
BLAST Results for Sequences Encoding Polypeptides Homologous
to Sarcosine Oxidase
Amino acidBLAST pLog Score
CloneStatusSEQ ID NO:2801411
cbn10.pk0034.f7EST413.70
rlr6.pk0064.f12EST612.00
s2.24a06EST818.40
wlm4.pk0002.c12EST1016.00

[0093] The sequence of the entire cDNA insert in the rice, soybean, and wheat clones listed in Table 4 was determined. The BLASTX search using the EST sequences from clones listed in Table 5 revealed similarity of the polypeptides encoded by the contig to a putative sarcosine oxidase from Arabidopsis thaliana (NCBI General Identifier No. 4572673) and by cDNAs to sarcosine oxidase from Oryctolagus cuniculus (NCBI General Identifier No. 1857445). Shown in Table 5 are the BLASTP results for the amino acid sequences derived from the entire cDNA inserts comprising the indicated cDNA clones (“FIS”) and the BLASTX results for the sequences of incomplete FIS projects (“iFIS”). Some of the FIS encode the entire open reading frame (“CGS”). 8

TABLE 5
BLAST Results for Sequences Encoding Polypeptides Homologous
to Sarcosine Oxidase
Amino acidBLAST pLog Score to
CloneStatusSEQ ID NO:45726731857445
cbn10.pk0034.f7:fisCGS26124.0048.70
rlr6.pk0064.f12iFIS28120.0041.53
s2.24a06:fisFIS30137.0057.10
wlm4.pk0002.c12:fisCGS32127.0048.70

[0094] The data in Table 6 presents the clone name, the corresponding amino acid sequence SEQ ID NO:, and the percent identity of the amino acid sequences set forth in SEQ ID NOs:4, 6, 8, 10, 26, 28, 30, and 32 to the Arabidopsis thaliana (SEQ ID NO:44) and Oryctolagus cuniculus sequences (SEQ ID NO:45). The Arabidopsis sequence is 27.9% identical to the rabbit sequence. 9

TABLE 6
Percent Identity of Amino Acid Sequences Deduced From
the Nucleotide Sequences of cDNA Clones Encoding
Polypeptides Homologous to Sarcosine Oxidase
Percent Identity to
CloneSEQ ID NO.Status45726731857445
cbn10.pk0034.f74EST58.236.3
rlr6.pk0064.f126EST56.736.7
s2.24a068EST64.837.5
wlm4.pk0002.c1210EST58.836.3
cbn10.pk0034.f7:fis26CGS48.726.9
rlr6.pk0064.f1228iFIS49.623.1
s2.24a06:fis30FIS55.726.9
wlm4.pk0002.c12:fis32CGS51.224.1

[0095] Sequence alignments and percent identity calculations were performed using the Megalign program of the LASERGENE bioinformatics computing suite (DNASTAR Inc., Madison, Wis.). Multiple alignment of the sequences was performed using the Clustal method of alignment (Higgins and Sharp (1989) CABIOS. 5:151 -153) with the default parameters (GAP PENALTY=10, GAP LENGTH PENALTY=10). Default parameters for pairwise alignments using the Clustal method were KTUPLE 1, GAP PENALTY=3, WINDOW=5 and DIAGONALS SAVED=5. Sequence alignments and BLAST scores and probabilities indicate that the nucleic acid fragments comprising the instant cDNA clones encode a substantial portion and an entire corn and wheat sarcosine oxidases and substantial portions of rice and soybean sarcosine oxidases. These sequences represent the first monocot and soybean sequences encoding sarcosine oxidases known to Applicant.

Example 5

Characterization of cDNA Clones Encoding Phosphoserine Phosphatase

[0096] The BLASTX search using the EST sequences from clones listed in Table 7 revealed similarity of the polypeptides encoded by the cDNAs to phosphoserine phosphatase from Homo sapiens (NCBI General Identifier No. 1890331). Shown in Table 7 are the BLAST results for individual ESTs (“EST”): 10

TABLE 7
BLAST Results for Sequences Encoding Polypeptides Homologous
to Phosphoserine Phosphatase
Amino acidBLAST pLog Score
CloneStatusSEQ ID NO:1890331
csi1n.pk0043.f9EST126.70
rls6.pk0001.f2EST1417.50

[0097] Nucleotides 8 through 300 from clone r1s6.pk0001.f2 are 99% identical to nucleotides 12 through 304 from a 304 nt rice EST having NCBI General Identifier No. 426240. Nucleotides 11 through 288 from clone r1s6.pk0001.f2 are 100% identical to nucleotides 1 through 278 from a 278 nt rice EST having NCBI General Identifier No. 431792.

[0098] The sequence of the entire cDNA insert in the clones listed in Table 7 was determined. The BLASTX search using the EST sequences from clones listed in Table 8 revealed similarity of the hypothetical protein from Sorghum bicolor (NCBI General Identifier No. 4680206) and the polypeptides encoded by the cDNAs to phosphoserine phosphatase from Arabidopsis thaliana (NCBI General Identifier No. 11358621). Shown in Table 8 are the BLASTP results for the amino acid sequences derived from the sequences of the entire cDNA inserts comprising the indicated cDNA clones (“FIS”). Some of the sequences encode an entire phosphoserine phosphatase (“CGS”): 11

TABLE 8
BLAST Results for Sequences Encoding Polypeptides Homologous
to Phosphoserine Phosphatase
Amino acidBLAST pLog Score
CloneStatusSEQ ID NO:468020611358621
csi1n.pk0043.f9:fisCGS34117.0089.52
rls6.pk0001.f2:fisCGS36106.0092.10

[0099] The NCBI database contains two different sequences encoding Arabidopsis thaliana phosphoserine phosphatase. According to the Entrez reports activity assays have been conducted only with the sequence having NCBI General Identifier No. 11358621. This sequence differs from the sequences having NCBI General Identifier No. 9795592 in only one amino acid. This difference occurs at position 266 where the sequence having NCBI General Identifier No. 11358621 has a C and the sequence having NCBI General Identifier No. 9795592 has an S. The C appears to be conserved with the sorghum putative protein, the human phosphoserine phosphatase, and the polypeptides in the present application.

[0100] The data in Table 9 presents the clone name, the corresponding amino acid sequence SEQ ID NO:, and the percent identity of the amino acid sequences set forth in SEQ ID NOs:a calculation of the percent identity of the amino acid sequences set forth in SEQ ID NOs:12, 14, 34, and 36 with the Sorghum bicolor (SEQ ID NO:46) and Arabidopsis thaliana (SEQ ID NO:47) sequences. The sorghum sequence is 67.4% identical to the Arabidopsis sequence. 12

TABLE 9
Percent Identity of Amino Acid Sequences Deduced From
the Nucleotide Sequences of cDNA Clones Encoding
Polypeptides Homologous to Phosphoserine Phosphatases
Percent Identity to
CloneSEQ ID NO.Status468020611358621
csi1n.pk0043.f912ST64.247.2
rls6.pk0001.f214EST71.163.9
csi1n.pk0043.f9:fis34CGS90.358.3
rls6.pk0001.f2:fis36CCS81.459.0

[0101] Sequence alignments and percent identity calculations were performed using the Megalign program of the LASERGENE bioinformatics computing suite (DNASTAR Inc., Madison, Wis.). Multiple alignment of the sequences was performed using the Clustal method of alignment (Higgins and Sharp (1989) CABIOS. 5:151 -153) with the default parameters (GAP PENALTY=10, GAP LENGTH PENALTY=10). Default parameters for pairwise alignments using the Clustal method were KTUPLE 1, GAP PENALTY=3, WINDOW=5 and DIAGONALS SAVED=5. Sequence alignments and BLAST scores and probabilities indicate that the nucleic acid fragments comprising the instant cDNA clones encode a substantial portion and an entire corn and rice phosphoserine phosphatases. These sequences represent the first monocot sequences encoding phosphoserine phosphatase known to Applicant.

Example 6

Characterization of cDNA Clones Encoding L-allo-Threonine Aldolase

[0102] The BLASTX search using the EST sequences from clones listed in Table 10 revealed similarity of the polypeptides encoded by the cDNAs to L-allo-threonine aldolase from Pseudomonas aeruginosa (NCBI General Identifier No. 2654615). These sequences also show similarity to a genomic Arabidopsis thaliana clone whose conceptual translation yields a protein similar to L-allo-threonine aldolase (NCBI General Identifier No. 3063449). Shown in Table 5 are the BLAST results for individual ESTs (“EST”): 13

TABLE 10
BLAST Results for Sequences Encoding Polypeptides Homologous
to L-allo-Threonine Aldolase
Amino acidBLAST pLog Score
CloneStatusSEQ ID NO:26546153063449
cen1.pk0013.g12EST1615.0049.15
rlr24.pk0097.h8EST1821.4037.70
sfl1.pk0028.a2EST2019.7030.00
wlk4.pk0014.d11EST2221.5038.00

[0103] Nucleotides 47 through 290 from clone r1r24.pk0097.h8 are 93% identical to nucleotides 7 through 250 from a 250 nt rice EST having NCBI General Identifier No. 2427342. Nucleotides 79 through 194 from clone w1k4.pk0014.dl 1 are 85% identical to nucleotides 75 through 190 from a 250 nt rice EST having NCBI General Identifier No. 2427342. Nucleotides 213 through 254 from clone w1k4.pk0014.d11 are 92% identical to nucleotides 209 through 250 from a 250 nt rice EST having NCBI General Identifier No. 2427342.

[0104] The sequence of the entire cDNA insert in the corn, rice, and soybean clones listed in Table 10 was determined. The BLASTX search using the EST sequences from clones listed in Table 11 revealed similarity of the polypeptides encoded by the cDNAs to L-allo-threonine aldolases from Arabidopsis thaliana (NCBI General Identifier Nos. 9802578 and 3063449). The reason for the existence of two different Arabidopsis sequences is that the analyses were done on two different dates. The sequence having NCBI General Identifier No. 3063449 was published on Jun. 28, 2000 and a corrected version, lacking the first 84 amino acids, having NCBI General Identifier No. 9802578 was published on Jan. 5, 2001. Shown in Table 11 are the BLASTP results for the amino acid sequences derived from the sequences of the entire cDNA inserts comprising the indicated cDNA clones encoding an entire phosphoserine phosphatase (“CGS”). 14

TABLE 11
BLAST Results for Sequences Encoding Polypeptides Homologous
to L-allo-Threonine Aldolase
NCBI
General
Amino acidBLAST pLogIdentifier
CloneStatusSEQ ID NO:ScoreNo.
cen1.pk0013.g12:fisCGS38120.009802578
rlr24.pk0097.h8:fisCGS40134.009802578
sfl1.pk0028.a2:fisCGS42150.003063449

[0105] The data in Table 12 presents the clone name, the corresponding amino acid sequence SEQ ID NO, and the percent identity of the amino acid sequences set forth in SEQ ID NOs: 16, 18, 20, 22, 38, 40, and 42 with the Arabidopsis thaliana sequence (SEQ ID NO:48). 15

TABLE 12
Percent Identity of Amino Acid Sequences Deduced
From the Nucleotide Sequences of cDNA Clones Encoding
Polypeptides Homologous to L-allo-Threonine Aldolase
Amino acidPercent Identity to
CloneSEQ ID NO.Status9802578
cen1.pk0013.g1216EST69.0
rlr24.pk0097.h818EST71.6
sfl1.pk0028.a220EST85.1
wlk4.pk0014.d1122EST72.8
cen1.pk0013.g12:fis38CGS60.6
rlr24.pk0097.h8:fis40CGS66.2
sfl1.pk0028.a2:fis42CGS72.2

[0106] Sequence alignments and percent identity calculations were performed using the Megalign program of the LASERGENE bioinformatics computing suite (DNASTAR Inc., Madison, Wis.). Multiple alignment of the sequences was performed using the Clustal method of alignment (Higgins and Sharp (1989) CABIOS. 5:151 - 153) with the default parameters (GAP PENALTY=10, GAP LENGTH PENALTY=10). Default parameters for pairwise alignments using the Clustal method were KTUPLE 1, GAP PENALTY=3, WINDOW=5 and DIAGONALS SAVED=5. Sequence alignments and BLAST scores and probabilities indicate that the nucleic acid fragments comprising the instant cDNA clones encode a substantial portion of a corn, rice, soybean, and wheat L-allo-threonine aldolases and entire corn, rice, and soybean L-allo-threonine aldolases. These sequences represent the first corn, rice, soybean, and wheat sequences encoding L-allo-threonine aldolases known to Applicant.

Example 7

Expression of Chimeric Genes in Monocot Cells

[0107] A chimeric gene comprising a cDNA encoding the instant polypeptides in sense orientation with respect to the maize 27 kD zein promoter that is located 5′ to the cDNA fragment, and the 10 kD zein 3′ end that is located 3′ to the cDNA fragment, can be constructed. The cDNA fragment of this gene may be generated by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) of the cDNA clone using appropriate oligonucleotide primers. Cloning sites (NcoI or SmaI) can be incorporated into the oligonucleotides to provide proper orientation of the DNA fragment when inserted into the digested vector pML103 as described below. Amplification is then performed in a standard PCR. The amplified DNA is then digested with restriction enzymes NcoI and SmaI and fractionated on an agarose gel. The appropriate band can be isolated from the gel and combined with a 4.9 kb NcoI-SmaI fragment of the plasmid pML103. Plasmid pML103 has been deposited under the terms of the Budapest Treaty at ATCC (American Type Culture Collection, 10801 University Blvd., Manassas, Va. 20110-2209), and bears accession number ATCC 97366. The DNA segment from pML103 contains a 1.05 kb SalI-NcoI promoter fragment of the maize 27 kD zein gene and a 0.96 kb SmaI-SalI fragment from the 3′ end of the maize 10 kD zein gene in the vector pGem9Zf(+) (Promega). Vector and insert DNA can be ligated at 15° C. overnight, essentially as described (Maniatis). The ligated DNA may then be used to transform E. coli XL1-Blue (Epicurian Coli XL-1 Blue™; Stratagene). Bacterial transformants can be screened by restriction enzyme digestion of plasmid DNA and limited nucleotide sequence analysis using the dideoxy chain termination method (Sequenase™ DNA Sequencing Kit; U.S. Biochemical). The resulting plasmid construct would comprise a chimeric gene encoding, in the 5′ to 3′ direction, the maize 27 kD zein promoter, a cDNA fragment encoding the instant polypeptides, and the 10 kD zein 3′ region.

[0108] The chimeric gene described above can then be introduced into corn cells by the following procedure. Immature corn embryos can be dissected from developing caryopses derived from crosses of the inbred corn lines H99 and LH132. The embryos are isolated 10 to 11 days after pollination when they are 1.0 to 1.5 mm long. The embryos are then placed with the axis-side facing down and in contact with agarose-solidified N6 medium (Chu et al. (1975) Sci. Sin. Peking 18:659-668). The embryos are kept in the dark at 27° C. Friable embryogenic callus consisting of undifferentiated masses of cells with somatic proembryoids and embryoids borne on suspensor structures proliferates from the scutellum of these immature embryos. The embryogenic callus isolated from the primary explant can be cultured on N6 medium and sub-cultured on this medium every 2 to 3 weeks.

[0109] The plasmid, p35S/Ac (obtained from Dr. Peter Eckes, Hoechst Ag, Frankfurt, Germany) may be used in transformation experiments in order to provide for a selectable marker. This plasmid contains the Pat gene (see European Patent Publication 0 242 236) which encodes phosphinothricin acetyl transferase (PAT). The enzyme PAT confers resistance to herbicidal glutamine synthetase inhibitors such as phosphinothricin. The pat gene in p35S/Ac is under the control of the 35S promoter from Cauliflower Mosaic Virus (Odell et al. (1985) Nature 313:810-812) and the 3′ region of the nopaline synthase gene from the T-DNA of the Ti plasmid of Agrobacterium tumefaciens.

[0110] The particle bombardment method (Klein et al. (1987) Nature 327:70-73) may be used to transfer genes to the callus culture cells. According to this method, gold particles (1 μm in diameter) are coated with DNA using the following technique. Ten μg of plasmid DNAs are added to 50 μL of a suspension of gold particles (60 mg per mL). Calcium chloride (50 μL of a 2.5 M solution) and spermidine free base (20 μL of a 1.0 M solution) are added to the particles. The suspension is vortexed during the addition of these solutions. After 10 minutes, the tubes are briefly centrifuged (5 sec at 15,000 rpm) and the supernatant removed. The particles are resuspended in 200 μL of absolute ethanol, centrifuged again and the supernatant removed. The ethanol rinse is performed again and the particles resuspended in a final volume of 30 μL of ethanol. An aliquot (5 μL) of the DNA-coated gold particles can be placed in the center of a Kapton™ flying disc (Bio-Rad Labs). The particles are then accelerated into the corn tissue with a Biolistic™ PDS- 1000/He (Bio-Rad Instruments, Hercules Calif.), using a helium pressure of 1000 psi, a gap distance of 0.5 cm and a flying distance of 1.0 cm.

[0111] For bombardment, the embryogenic tissue is placed on filter paper over agarose-solidified N6 medium. The tissue is arranged as a thin lawn and covered a circular area of about 5 cm in diameter. The petri dish containing the tissue can be placed in the chamber of the PDS-1000/He approximately 8 cm from the stopping screen. The air in the chamber is then evacuated to a vacuum of 28 inches of Hg. The macrocarrier is accelerated with a helium shock wave using a rupture membrane that bursts when the He pressure in the shock tube reaches 1000 psi.

[0112] Seven days after bombardment the tissue can be transferred to N6 medium that contains bialophos (5 mg per liter) and lacks casein or proline. The tissue continues to grow slowly on this medium. After an additional 2 weeks the tissue can be transferred to fresh N6 medium containing bialophos. After 6 weeks, areas of about 1 cm in diameter of actively growing callus can be identified on some of the plates containing the bialophos-supplemented medium. These calli may continue to grow when sub-cultured on the selective medium.

[0113] Plants can be regenerated from the transgenic callus by first transferring clusters of tissue to N6 medium supplemented with 0.2 mg per liter of 2,4-D. After two weeks the tissue can be transferred to regeneration medium (Fromm et al. (1990) Bio/Technology 8:833-839).

Example 8

Expression of Chimeric Genes in Dicot Cells

[0114] A seed-specific expression cassette composed of the promoter and transcription terminator from the gene encoding the β subunit of the seed storage protein phaseolin from the bean Phaseolus vulgaris (Doyle et al. (1986) J. Biol. Chem. 261:9228-9238) can be used for expression of the instant polypeptides in transformed soybean. The phaseolin cassette includes about 500 nucleotides upstream (5′) from the translation initiation codon and about 1650 nucleotides downstream (3′) from the translation stop codon of phaseolin. Between the 5′ and 3′ regions are the unique restriction endonuclease sites Nco I (which includes the ATG translation initiation codon), Sma I, Kpn I and Xba I. The entire cassette is flanked by Hind III sites.

[0115] The cDNA fragment of this gene may be generated by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) of the cDNA clone using appropriate oligonucleotide primers. Cloning sites can be incorporated into the oligonucleotides to provide proper orientation of the DNA fragment when inserted into the expression vector. Amplification is then performed as described above, and the isolated fragment is inserted into a pUC 18 vector carrying the seed expression cassette.

[0116] Soybean embryos may then be transformed with the expression vector comprising sequences encoding the instant polypeptides. To induce somatic embryos, cotyledons, 3-5 mm in length dissected from surface sterilized, immature seeds of the soybean cultivar A2872, can be cultured in the light or dark at 26° C. on an appropriate agar medium for 6-10 weeks. Somatic embryos which produce secondary embryos are then excised and placed into a suitable liquid medium. After repeated selection for clusters of somatic embryos which multiplied as early, globular staged embryos, the suspensions are maintained as described below.

[0117] Soybean embryogenic suspension cultures can be maintained in 35 mL liquid media on a rotary shaker, 150 rpm, at 26° C. with florescent lights on a 16:8 hour day/night schedule. Cultures are subcultured every two weeks by inoculating approximately 35 mg of tissue into 35 mL of liquid medium.

[0118] Soybean embryogenic suspension cultures may then be transformed by the method of particle gun bombardment (Klein et al. (1987) Nature (London) 327:70-73, U.S. Pat. No. 4,945,050). A DuPont Biolistic™ PDS1000/HE instrument (helium retrofit) can be used for these transformations.

[0119] A selectable marker gene which can be used to facilitate soybean transformation is a chimeric gene composed of the 35S promoter from Cauliflower Mosaic Virus (Odell et al. (1985) Nature 313:810-812), the hygromycin phosphotransferase gene from plasmid pJR225 (from E. coli; Gritz et al.(1983) Gene 25:179-188) and the 3′ region of the nopaline synthase gene from the T-DNA of the Ti plasmid of Agrobacterium tumefaciens. The seed expression cassette comprising the phaseolin 5′ region, the fragment encoding the instant polypeptides and the phaseolin 3′ region can be isolated as a restriction fragment. This fragment can then be inserted into a unique restriction site of the vector carrying the marker gene.

[0120] To 50 μL of a 60 mg/mL 1 μm gold particle suspension is added (in order): 5 μL DNA (1 μg/μL), 20 μL spermidine (0.1 M), and 50 μL CaCl2 (2.5 M). The particle preparation is then agitated for three minutes, spun in a microfuge for 10 seconds and the supernatant removed. The DNA-coated particles are then washed once in 400 μL 70% ethanol and resuspended in 40 μL of anhydrous ethanol. The DNA/particle suspension can be sonicated three times for one second each. Five μL of the DNA-coated gold particles are then loaded on each macro carrier disk.

[0121] Approximately 300-400 mg of a two-week-old suspension culture is placed in an empty 60×15 mm petri dish and the residual liquid removed from the tissue with a pipette. For each transformation experiment, approximately 5-10 plates of tissue are normally bombarded. Membrane rupture pressure is set at 1100 psi and the chamber is evacuated to a vacuum of 28 inches mercury. The tissue is placed approximately 3.5 inches away from the retaining screen and bombarded three times. Following bombardment, the tissue can be divided in half and placed back into liquid and cultured as described above.

[0122] Five to seven days post bombardment, the liquid media may be exchanged with fresh media, and eleven to twelve days post bombardment with fresh media containing 50 mg/mL hygromycin. This selective media can be refreshed weekly. Seven to eight weeks post bombardment, green, transformed tissue may be observed growing from untransformed, necrotic embryogenic clusters. Isolated green tissue is removed and inoculated into individual flasks to generate new, clonally propagated, transformed embryogenic suspension cultures. Each new line may be treated as an independent transformation event. These suspensions can then be subcultured and maintained as clusters of immature embryos or regenerated into whole plants by maturation and germination of individual somatic embryos.

Example 9

Expression of Chimeric Genes in Microbial Cells

[0123] The cDNAs encoding the instant polypeptides can be inserted into the T7 E. coli expression vector pBT430. This vector is a derivative of pET-3a (Rosenberg et al. (1987) Gene 56:125-135) which employs the bacteriophage T7 RNA polymerase/T7 promoter system. Plasmid pBT430 was constructed by first destroying the EcoR I and Hind III sites in pET-3a at their original positions. An oligonucleotide adaptor containing EcoR I and Hind III sites was inserted at the BamH I site of pET-3a. This created pET-3aM with additional unique cloning sites for insertion of genes into the expression vector. Then, the Nde I site at the position of translation initiation was converted to an Nco I site using oligonucleotide-directed mutagenesis. The DNA sequence of pET-3aM in this region, 5′-CATATGG, was converted to 5′-CCCATGG in pBT430.

[0124] Plasmid DNA containing a cDNA may be appropriately digested to release a nucleic acid fragment encoding the protein. This fragment may then be purified on a 1% low melting agarose gel. Buffer and agarose contain 10 μg/ml ethidium bromide for visualization of the DNA fragment. The fragment can then be purified from the agarose gel by digestion with GELase™ (Epicentre Technologies, Madison, Wis.) according to the manufacturer's instructions, ethanol precipitated, dried and resuspended in 20 μL of water. Appropriate oligonucleotide adapters may be ligated to the fragment using T4 DNA ligase (New England Biolabs (NEB), Beverly, Mass.). The fragment containing the ligated adapters can be purified from the excess adapters using low melting agarose as described above. The vector pBT430 is digested, dephosphorylated with alkaline phosphatase (NEB) and deproteinized with phenol/chloroform as described above. The prepared vector pBT430 and fragment can then be ligated at 16° C. for 15 hours followed by transformation into DH5 electrocompetent cells (GIBCO BRL). Transformants can be selected on agar plates containing LB media and 100 μg/mL ampicillin. Transformants containing the gene encoding the instant polypeptides are then screened for the correct orientation with respect to the T7 promoter by restriction enzyme analysis.

[0125] For high level expression, a plasmid clone with the cDNA insert in the correct orientation relative to the T7 promoter can be transformed into E. coli strain BL21(DE3) (Studier et al. (1986) J. Mol. Biol. 189:113-130). Cultures are grown in LB medium containing ampicillin (100 mg/L) at 25° C. At an optical density at 600 nm of approximately 1, IPTG (isopropylthio-β-galactoside, the inducer) can be added to a final concentration of 0.4 mM and incubation can be continued for 3 h at 25°. Cells are then harvested by centrifugation and re-suspended in 50 μL of 50 mM Tris-HCl at pH 8.0 containing 0.1 mM DTT and 0.2 mM phenyl methylsulfonyl fluoride. A small amount of 1 mm glass beads can be added and the mixture sonicated 3 times for about 5 seconds each time with a microprobe sonicator. The mixture is centrifuged and the protein concentration of the supernatant determined. One μg of protein from the soluble fraction of the culture can be separated by SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. Gels can be observed for protein bands migrating at the expected molecular weight.

Example 10

Evaluating Compounds for Their Ability to Inhibit the Activity of Glycine Metabolic Enzymes

[0126] The polypeptides described herein may be produced using any number of methods known to those skilled in the art. Such methods include, but are not limited to, expression in bacteria as described in Example 9, or expression in eukaryotic cell culture, in planta, and using viral expression systems in suitably infected organisms or cell lines. The instant polypeptides may be expressed either as mature forms of the proteins as observed in vivo or as fusion proteins by covalent attachment to a variety of enzymes, proteins or affinity tags. Common fusion protein partners include glutathione S-transferase (“GST”), thioredoxin (“Trx”), maltose binding protein, and C- and/or N-terminal hexahistidine polypeptide (“(His)6”). The fusion proteins may be engineered with a protease recognition site at the fusion point so that fusion partners can be separated by protease digestion to yield intact mature enzyme. Examples of such proteases include thrombin, enterokinase and factor Xa. However, any protease can be used which specifically cleaves the peptide connecting the fusion protein and the enzyme.

[0127] Purification of the instant polypeptides, if desired, may utilize any number of separation technologies familiar to those skilled in the art of protein purification. Examples of such methods include, but are not limited to, homogenization, filtration, centrifugation, heat denaturation, ammonium sulfate precipitation, desalting, pH precipitation, ion exchange chromatography, hydrophobic interaction chromatography and affinity chromatography, wherein the affinity ligand represents a substrate, substrate analog or inhibitor. When the instant polypeptides are expressed as fusion proteins, the purification protocol may include the use of an affinity resin which is specific for the fusion protein tag attached to the expressed enzyme or an affinity resin containing ligands which are specific for the enzyme. For example, the instant polypeptides may be expressed as a fusion protein coupled to the C-terminus of thioredoxin. In addition, a (His)6 peptide may be engineered into the N-terminus of the fused thioredoxin moiety to afford additional opportunities for affinity purification. Other suitable affinity resins could be synthesized by linking the appropriate ligands to any suitable resin such as Sepharose-4B. In an alternate embodiment, a thioredoxin fusion protein may be eluted using dithiothreitol; however, elution may be accomplished using other reagents which interact to displace the thioredoxin from the resin. These reagents include β-mercaptoethanol or other reduced thiol. The eluted fusion protein may be subjected to further purification by traditional means as stated above, if desired. Proteolytic cleavage of the thioredoxin fusion protein and the enzyme may be accomplished after the fusion protein is purified or while the protein is still bound to the ThioBond™ affinity resin or other resin.

[0128] Crude, partially purified or purified enzyme, either alone or as a fusion protein, may be utilized in assays for the evaluation of compounds for their ability to inhibit enzymatic activation of the instant polypeptides disclosed herein. Assays may be conducted under well-known experimental conditions which permit optimal enzymatic activity. For example, assays for choline oxidase are presented by Yaqoob, M. et al. (1997) J. Biolumin. Chemilumin. 12:135-140. Assays for sarcosine oxidase are presented by Zeller, H. D. et al. (1989) Biochemistry 128:5145-5154. Assays for phosphoserine phosphatase are presented by Etzkorn, F. A. et al. (1994) Biochemistry 33:2380-2388. Assays for L-allo-threonine aldolase are presented by Liu, J. Q. et al. (1997) Eur. J. Biochem. 245:289-293.